Devolution is going to be a big issue in politics for some time to come as public trust declines in the state’s ability to solve the nation’s problems.
Labour initiated a debate in the Queen’s Speech about devolution to the regions as a way of encouraging economic growth. We made clear that it has to be devolution – giving resources as well as powers to regions – and not just decentralisation.
There may be talk of a Northern Powerhouse but, like HS2, plans stop at Leeds and Manchester. As the region with the most distinctive regional identity the north east has to be part of the debate.
Devolution has its dangers. The lesson from Scotland seems to be that devolution can to some be a slippery slope to break up.
Devolving decisions to more local bodies like police and crime commissioners can also be a convenient excuse for ministers to deny responsibility if things go wrong. But there’s something else we need to take care about.
There are golden threads which keep our United Kingdom together. One is the flow of money from one part to other areas in greater need.
Already we are seeing mayoral candidates in London questioning why London as the richest part of the country shouldn’t keep more of the money it generates. I’m a supporter of devolution but if we’re not careful Broken Britain will be less a description and more like a policy.